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Sharing the Road Safely

Drivers Icon Teaching Your Teen to Drive

Drivers of cars and trucks share the road with others. You must know laws that apply to other road users. In crashes involving large trucks, the occupants of a car – usually the driver – sustain 78 percent of fatalities. In order to keep you and your teen safe on the road, you should be extra cautious when driving around Motorcycles, Pedestrians, bicycles, large trucks and emergency vehicles. Sharing the road can be dangerous if you are not aware of your limitations. Here are a few tips to help you drive safer to prevent a crash and minimize injuries and fatalities if one does occur.

Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on public roads as other users. As a defensive driver, you need to be aware of some special situations and conditions so you can share the road safely with cyclists.

  • Motorcycles are not easily identified in traffic
  • Drivers turning left in front of an oncoming motorcyclist cause a large percentage of car-cycle crashes. Make sure you identify the motorcycle as a critical object and know its speed before you make a left turn.
  • Be aware of motorcycles on the road. Regardless of who is legally at fault in car-cycle crashes, the motorcyclist usually is the loser

Pedestrians account for nearly 20 percent of all traffic deaths. You are required to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk area, whether there are pavement markings or not. Residential and school areas are especially dangerous. It’s a good idea to slow down and create a larger space cushion when you see pedestrians near a school.

Bicyclists have the right to use all public roadways, and share rights and duties applicable to all drivers of any vehicle. But, unlike motor vehicles, bicyclists must share their lane of traffic. While it is legal to drive beside a bicyclist in the same lane, you are safer if you do not. When passing and overtaking a bicycle, you must maintain a three (3) foot separation when possible.

Heavy vehicles (trucks) are not large cars. Whether accelerating, braking, climbing a hill, switching lanes or turning onto a side street, tractor-trailer rigs must perform certain maneuvers that drivers of passenger vehicles are generally not familiar with. The motorist is often unprepared to share the road safely with heavy-vehicle traffic.

Cutting in front can cut your life short

If you cut in front of another vehicle, you may create an emergency-braking situation for the vehicles around you, especially in heavy traffic. Trucks take much longer to stop in comparison to cars. When passing, look for the front of the truck in your rearview mirror before pulling in front, and avoid braking situations.

Watch your blind spots – the “No-Zones”

Heavy vehicles (trucks) have blind spots, or No-Zones, around the front, back, and sides of the vehicle. These No-Zones make it difficult for the driver to see. Avoid being caught in a truck’s No-Zones. If you can’t see the truck driver in the truck’s mirror, the truck driver can’t see you.

Avoid squeeze play

Be careful of trucks making wide right turns. If you try to get in between the truck and the curb, you’ll be caught in a “squeeze” crash. Truck drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left in order to safely negotiate a right turn. They can’t see cars directly behind or beside them. Cutting in between the truck and the curb increases the possibility of a crash. So pay attention to truck signals, and give them lots of room to maneuver.

Farm and slow-moving vehicles

Farm and slow-moving vehicles have this symbol on the back of a vehicle; it is a warning to slow down. It means the vehicle cannot travel faster than 25 miles per hour. Don’t be impatient if you find yourself behind one of these slow vehicles.

Emergency Vehicles

Emergency vehicles may be parked in the roadway or alongside another vehicle. When driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes, upon approaching a parked emergency vehicle whose audible or visual signals are in use, you must merge into the lane farthest from the emergency vehicle, except when otherwise directed by a police officer. When driving on a two-lane roadway, you must slow down to a speed that is 20 mph less than the posted speed limit, except when otherwise directed by a police officer.

Animals

Because of Wyoming’s abundant wildlife population, collisions with animals, and particularly with deer and other “big-game” animals, are real dangers on Wyoming’s rural highways. Although there is no fool-proof way to avoid a vehicle-animal collision, there are steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of such a crash and lessen the severity of one if it does happen. When you see an animal on or near the roadway, reduce your speed and tap your brakes, to warn other drivers, and sound your horn. If a collision seems inevitable, don’t swerve suddenly to avoid the animal. Brake as quickly as you safely can, but keep your vehicle under control and on the road.

Work zones

Work zones can be very dangerous, especially when traveling on the highway. It’s important to be alert and prepared to slow down or stop in a work zone. Slowing down and allowing others to merge will ensure a safe passage through work zones. Here are a few tips on work zone safety:

  • Stay alert: Work zones are busy places where construction vehicles and workers are always moving. Be alert, and stay on the safe path that is designated throughout the work zone.
  • Take your cues from trucks: Work zones often pop up suddenly. If you are not paying attention to the signs, you could find yourself in a serious accident. Since trucks have a height advantage and can see ahead of traffic, their brake light activity can provide a good signal of a slow-down or work zone ahead. Truck drivers know the stopping limitations of their trucks and pay close attention to traffic.
  • Merge gently: Aggressive drivers can be extremely dangerous while driving in work zones. Work zones require time and courtesy. For a smooth passage through work zones, allow others to merge in front of you. Be especially considerate to trucks. They require more space to merge and are the least maneuverable vehicles on the road.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Emergency Vehicles

When you hear sirens and see flashing lights, you should get out of the way as quickly and safely as possible. First, check the traffic around you and slow down. If traffic allows, signal and then pull to the right, clear of an intersection, and stop. Remain there until the emergency vehicle has passed.